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SHU launches new technologies for social inclusion project

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Sheffield Hallam University has launched a European-wide digital technologies for social inclusion project aimed at engaging new citizens in six EU countries.

The CultureLabs project is funded by the European Commission and will develop a platform to support those heritage institutions such as libraries, museums and theatres who wish to work with communities from immigrant, refugees or migrant backgrounds to share cultural heritage and understanding.

As one of eight partners involved in the project, Sheffield Hallam will be working on how users will interact with a digital online environment where institutions can share resources and knowledge around their cultural heritage to collaborate and work with communities.

Hallam has received £300k as part of a £2.2m grant from the European Commission's Horizon 2020 scheme for research and innovation for the three-year project.

Luigina Ciolfi, professor of human centred computing at the University, said: "CultureLabs will see us work collaboratively across six countries and particularly on four case studies, two in Italy, one in Finland and one here in the UK. This is a new approach to social engagement with new citizens and it's about sharing information and culture both ways; with new residents learning the cultural heritages of their new homes and sharing information about their own history with their new communities. CultureLabs will support participation in culture. 

"The primary focus will be on approaches that build positive awareness about communities’ own heritage and memories, and engage their members as bearers and producers of culture.

"The platform will be used to enable community participants to document, share and reconfigure their own cultural content. Digital technology will be used to create dialogue between communities and it will be designed with the end-users in mind.

"The first year of the project will be developing the platforms and working with our partners on putting the building blocks in place for the major case studies in Italy and Finland in 2019 and 2020, and in the UK in 2021."

The platform will comprise of a rich variety of resources including guidelines, methodologies, digital tools, existing community engagement projects, as well as novel ideas and approaches that can facilitate social innovation in culture. 

Participants, institutional stakeholders and community members can make use of existing, shared, and in many cases commonly created, resources, according to their missions and needs to engage with culture and heritage.

Hallam has received the second largest share of the grant after the project lead, the Technical University of Athens. The People's History Museum in Manchester is partnering with Sheffield Hallam on the UK case study, which will be developed in 2021.

Prof. Ciolfi is based in the University's Cultural Communication and Computing Research Institute (C3RI) - Hallam's largest and highest rated community of researchers.

For press information: Tim Ward in the Sheffield Hallam University press office on 0114 225 5220 or email